Monkeypox outbreak in Washington state 'is not under control'
As of Aug. 1, there have been 145 confirmed cases of monkeypox infection in Washington state, according to the latest from the state's Department of Health. Cases have been doubling every 8-9 days ever since the first reported case in May.
"So clearly, this is an outbreak that is not under control," said Dr. Tao Kwan-Gett, chief science officer for the Washington state Department of Health.
Officials say that King County is experiencing the majority of cases, though surrounding counties are seeing confirmed infections. Kwan-Gett said the monkeypox name has created a stigma, so the DOH is calling the contagious infection MPV or MPXV instead.
Most of the cases have been reported by men who have sex with men. But Kwan-Gett notes MPV doesn’t discriminate between sexual orientation, gender, or income. This virus is not a sexually transmitted disease.
“Anybody who has physical contact with another person who has an infectious rash could be infected," Dr. Kwan-Gett said. "It's important to keep in mind that we're not safe from MPV until all of us in our communities are safe from MPV."
That is why MPV vaccines are highly sought after. Doses have been difficult to get, so far.
"But we will be getting more," Dr. Kwan-Gett said, adding that Washington got 3,600 doses last week of the newest vaccine. "And 90% of that allocation went to King County."
That vaccine is called "JYNNEOS," which Kwan-Gett said is the best option right now. He notes that the federal government plans to distribute 800,000 doses of JYNNEOS nationally, soon. It is unknown how much of that shipment will be allocated to Washington.
"And we're very eager for that to happen so that we can be sure to... vaccinate those who've been exposed and those who are at highest risk for for infection," Dr. Kwan-Gett said.
Dyer Oxley and Libby Denkmann contributed to this blog post.